By the time I post this, the people at Anthology Bar and Restaurant would have already started cleaning up and packing everything inside the bar. By then, the appliances, tables and chairs, and decorations have been removed, boxed, and moved out. By then, Anthology would become nothing more than an empty warehouse.
It was a guest who informed me last Sunday (November 15) that Anthology would be closed down. He said the owner of the building is planning to reclaim the area in a week or so. Why the owner planned so is something that was never clarified to me.
I learned through the bits of info I found by word of mouth and the Internet that Anthology was already an old watering hole in the Adriatico area in Malate. I heard it was opened about eight years ago as a place for musicians, music lovers, and those who are in for a laid-back night out in Manila.
One blogger described Anthology as “a cozy haven perfect for Gen X’ers… and those particularly belonging to the New Wave and Heavy Metal era”. “Live bands (perform) every night at this popular music bar. It’s a young crowd and the acts are mostly pop, but with occasional folk and OPM (original Pinoy music),” another said.
But perhaps, these changing times have a say as to which stays, which goes, which disappears… and Anthology is one of those that left.
When I started hanging out in Anthology in 2005, I was looking for a quiet place in Malate where I could sip my sip beer and listen to Sting and acoustic music while I laze the night away. Nobody told me about the place; I just sort of stumbled upon it.
I was mesmerized by my first visit in Anthology: the place was adorned with movie posters, rock n’ roll memorabilia, and items such as guitars, an old gas pump, and a pogo stick. There were also pictures of icons such as U2, Marilyn Monroe, and Che Guevarra.
The bar area was just as impressive, with its collection of bottles and a figure of Darth Vader (and his helmet) on display. To the left was the DJ’s booth, boasting of its own massive collection of CDs from the 80’s, 90’s, and probably those from 19-Voltes V. Televisions showing music videos or sports shows were also hanging at several corners of the bar.
The only thing that has left me baffled until now is the wrecked Cessna plane on the second floor. Speaking of which, the second floor was home to Unplugged, a smaller bistro where, I heard, musicians of all genres met and performed. By the time I came around, Unplugged was closed. And then there’s the Cessna plane to ponder about.
I would spend hours listening to the acoustic bands that performed Sting (at my request) and other music at one corner of the room. Many of them would play modern rock, others would belt out ballads, while some opted to play soft music. All of these I immediately found to my liking; these were the music that relaxed me, after all.
Most of the time, I would sit in one corner or at the counter and just drink beer or alcopop (like Tanduay Ice and
Gilbey’s Premium). When I do get hungry, I would order French fries, siomai, or buffalo wings with my alcohol.
The fries were crunchy and soft in the inside, while the siomai was just enough to whet my appetite. The buffalo wings were spicy and juicy (though they were messy to eat, and the waitresses would encourage me to order rice with it, which I never did). In any case, I ate a little and drank more in Anthology, but those, complimented by the rock n’ roll ditties blasting my eardrums, were satisfying moments.
Come Friday (November 15), I decided to pay my last respects to Anthology. I ordered my usual bottle of Gilbey’s Premium and a serving of the buffalo wings. Gilbey’s is an ordinary alcopop, but for me, it would be the last time that sweet, green liquid would drench my throat in that place. The buffalo wings were as spicy and as juicy as it was before, but it would be the last wings I would partake there.
I regretted not ordering their assorted beer mates, or tasting their cocktails, no matter how common they seemed. I regretted not staying longer, not socializing more, and not drinking in the antique surroundings. I regretted not singing with the bands when they asked me to, or not shuffling through their records and listening to them.
When I passed there last Monday, after my trip to Baguio to visit my sister (who just gave birth to her third daughter), Anthology was indeed closed. The lights are down, and the interior is messed up. Everything that was to be removed seems to be gone. It was really time for them to go.
Anthology was an icon, an enduring symbol of a kind of night-time fun enjoyed by generations, its lively sights and sounds and the wrecked Cessna plane standing as reminders of a bygone era in Malate’s bustling night life.
As I meditate on the demise of Anthology, I can’t help but think how many old places like it stood in Malate, and how many of them were swept away by the changing times. The old watering holes here seem to be fading away, giving way to newer karaoke bars and spas and restaurants.
Despite this new era, I’m still glad that there was one place that I felt at home with. There was at least one place that welcomed a wandering soul such as me, with its loud music and liquor and the ever-imposing Cessna plane.
I raise my glass for you, Anthology. Thanks for the music and the memories.
Credit goes to http://malate.wordpress.com/about/once-upon-a-time-in-malate/ (and to the other websites whose URLs I can’t remember)